Used 2016 BMW 7 Series Review

Have you been waiting for the BMW 7 Series to catch up to newer flagship luxury sedans? Your wait is over with the fully redesigned 2016 7 Series, which now boasts changes for even greater passenger comfort, and more technology than you can shake a smartphone at. Let's find out what else this new 7 Series has to offer.




what's new

The 2016 BMW 7 Series has been fully redesigned.

vehicle overview

The outgoing BMW 7 Series was an excellent car by most measures, but time waits for no executive sedan. Other rival models were getting better in one way or another, so BMW has reinvented its 2016 BMW 7 Series and is bringing about a number of intriguing upgrades.

Tops on that list is the newly standard long wheelbase. Following the lead of Mercedes-Benz, BMW won't even offer a short-wheelbase version of its executive cruiser in the U.S., so every 2016 7 Series comes standard with a stretched platform that measures 126.4 inches between the wheels — nearly 2 inches more than even the S-Class provides. That translates into copious rear legroom that makes the 7 Series fit for chauffeur duty right out of the box. Another first is the 2016 7 Series' standard adaptive air suspension with an available camera-based predictive program (Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview). Similar to the S-Class' "Magic Body Control" feature, it monitors road conditions in real time, changing the damper profiles in milliseconds to ensure the ride inside remains as smooth as possible.

The previous 7 Series' strongest aspect was arguably its engine lineup, so BMW has generally chosen to leave well enough alone. Initially, the 2016 7 Series will be offered in either rear-wheel-drive 740i or all-wheel-drive 750i xDrive trim, with the 740 running a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 and the 750 boasting a 4.4-liter turbo V8. Technically, the 740i's engine is a new design that's shared with the 340i (as well as many upcoming BMW models), trumping the old motor by 5 horsepower for a total of 320 hp; however, the 750i's 445-hp V8 is a straight carryover from 2015. BMW plans to phase in 740i xDrive and 750i models by the end of the year, as well as an intriguing 740e xDrive plug-in hybrid that promises to be the most innovative of the bunch.

There's plenty more innovation with regard to safety and cabin technology. The Driver Assistance Plus II package, for example, adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, lane-departure intervention and a novel "traffic jam assistant" that automatically makes small low-speed steering adjustments as long as you have at least one hand touching the wheel. In terms of interior features, the 2016 7 Series comes standard with a Gesture Control system that uses an infrared camera to translate your midair finger movements into commands. Among the many options is a Touch Command Tablet that lets rear passengers control many vehicle functions — including an onboard "Vitality Programme" exercise function that prompts you to press your body into various areas of the seat for a workout on the go.

Of course, the primary bogey for the new 7 Series is the Mercedes S-Class, which offers a wider array of powertrain options this year and remains arguably the most prestigious car in the segment. The Porsche Panamera is due for replacement soon, but if you plan to drive your new executive sedan yourself, the Porsche is easily the most engaging option. The extroverted Jaguar XJ is an alluringly unconventional choice, while the understated Audi A8 is exceptionally well executed all around. But for now, at least, we're glad to see the 2016 BMW 7 Series once again in the mix with the latest and greatest.

trim levels & features

The 2016 BMW 7 Series is a full-size luxury sedan offered in 740i and 750i xDrive trims as of this writing. It comes in a single wheelbase specification that's equivalent to the long-wheelbase versions of other cars in this class.

The 740i comes standard with 18-inch wheels and run-flat tires, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams, automatic windshield wipers, LED foglights, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming, power-folding heated side mirrors, an adaptive air suspension, adjustable drive and suspension settings, front and rear parking sensors, power-closing doors, keyless entry and ignition (including a hands-free power trunk lid), a power-adjustable steering wheel, wood trim, four-zone climate control, leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable heated front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Standard tech-oriented features include a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, the iDrive infotainment system with a touchpad-enhanced controller and a 10.2-inch central display, a rearview camera, a number of features from the BMW ConnectedDrive portfolio (BMW Online with MyInfo and BMW Apps), Gesture Control, onboard Internet with WiFi hotspot capability, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, wireless phone charging and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, HD radio and dual USB ports.

The 750i xDrive adds 19-inch wheels, unique LED headlights, upgraded leather upholstery, 20-way multicontour power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), a head-up display and a power rear-window sunshade.

Options on both trims include the Autobahn package (variable-ratio steering and the camera-based Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview system that anticipates changing road conditions and adjusts the dampers accordingly) and the Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats). The two trims also share a pair of safety packages, starting with the Driver Assistance Plus package (lane-departure warning, speed limit info, automated parking, blind-spot monitoring, frontal collision mitigation with automatic braking and a surround-view camera with driver-selectable camera views) and graduating to the Driver Assistance Plus II package (adaptive cruise control, lane-departure prevention and the above-mentioned Traffic Jam Assistant).

The Executive package for the 740i adds power rear side window shades with ambient pillar lighting, ventilated front seats and extended leather trim with contrast stitching, plus the head-up display and multicontour front seats. The 750i xDrive's Executive package includes those first three items plus massaging front seats. On both trims, the Interior Design package lets you select custom trim materials and accents, ranging from a synthetic suede headliner to wood-trimmed seatbelt covers (yep, really), while the M Sport package provides similar customization options with a sportier theme, plus lightweight 19-inch wheels, an aero body kit and (for the 750i xDrive) a sport exhaust. The Luxury Seating package with Cold Weather bundles the Cold Weather package with a heated armrest and power-adjustable ventilated rear seats with massage functions (plus the Executive package on the 740i).

Offered exclusively on the 750i xDrive is a Rear Executive Lounge Seating package that adds an upgraded rear passenger-side seat with a power-adjustable footrest and a foldable table, dual rear entertainment screens and the wireless, removable Touch Command Tablet with numerous infotainment system controls.

Stand-alone options include some of the above items plus 20-inch wheels, summer tires, a cabin perfume diffuser, a wood and leather steering wheel, an upgraded key fob with an embedded touchscreen and remote control parking capability (though the legal status and thus availability of this feature in the U.S. is presently unclear), a larger dual-pane sunroof with LED accents in a handful of selectable colors, a night-vision camera system and a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound audio system.

performance & mpg

The 2016 BMW 740i is rear-wheel drive and comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine rated at 320 hp and 330 pound-feet of torque. According to the EPA, it should return 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway).

The 750i xDrive features all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic, as well as a turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine that pumps out 445 hp and 480 lb-ft. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 19 mpg combined (16 city/25 highway).

Further powertrain configurations will be introduced as the year goes on.

safety

Every 2016 BMW 7 Series comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front knee airbags and active front head restraints. Also standard is the BMW Assist emergency communications system, which includes automatic crash notification, an emergency response button, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery. The available surround-view camera system includes a wide panoramic view, a top view and a 3D view that features a computer-generated landscape of the car and its surroundings.

A number of additional safety technologies are available via the two above-mentioned Driver Assistance Plus packages. A night-vision camera system is a stand-alone option.

driving

The base inline-6 should satisfy most shoppers with its seamless turbocharged thrust and laudable refinement, but the familiar V8 remains for this big sedan. BMW estimates a 0-60-mph sprint of just 4.3 seconds for the 750i xDrive, and although we haven't tested one yet, we find that number fully plausible based on our initial drive. Either way, the eight-speed automatic is one of the best in the industry, delivering buttery shifts right on time.

Out in the wild, the 2016 7 Series is a more capable handler than its size suggests, if not a full-fledged performance car like the Panamera. The Autobahn package's predictive suspension helps produce an impressively flat cornering attitude, yet the ride is very supple on virtually all surfaces. There are five selectable drive settings in the 7 Series — Eco Pro, Adaptive, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus — but if it were our car, we'd just leave it in Sport, which strikes a winning balance by gracefully soaking up bumps while keeping body motions disciplined. Road and wind noise are held to a minimum, allowing passengers full enjoyment of their various entertainment options.

interior

While the outgoing 7 Series' cabin design was pretty conservative, the new 2016 model goes all-in on the latest technology. The overall dashboard design does have a familiar BMW look, but we could fill an entire review with the redesigned 7's various features and innovations. A standard LED "light carpet" illuminates your entry as you approach the car. Once inside, you're greeted by ambient LED lighting and the latest version of iDrive ("iDrive 5," to be precise), which notably adds touchscreen functionality and the Gesture Control system discussed above. The latter strikes us as more of a gimmick than anything else, but you'll certainly impress your passengers when you turn up the volume by moving your fingers through the air.

BMW has clearly gone in an upmarket direction this time around in order to challenge the decidedly fancy S-Class. The 7 Series' standard long wheelbase affords truly copious rear legroom and is complemented by an unprecedented array of rear-seat luxuries, including the optional and very cool tablet-based infotainment system that'll have you feeling as if you're in a sci-fi movie. Bespoke touches like the wood-trimmed seatbelts suggest that a page has been taken from Porsche's highly successful ultra-luxury playbook. Of course, it's not a bad thing to be up front, either, what with the sublime available multicontour seats and nifty heated armrests. No matter where you are in the 2016 7 Series' cabin, it's a sublime place to be.

The 7's trunk is suitably grand for an executive sedan, measuring 18.2 cubic feet. Additionally, a standard cargo pass-through allows longer items to poke into the rear seat via an opening in the rear seatback measuring 8 inches wide and 9.5 inches high.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.